Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Mary O'Connor


In this thesis I have constructed a "gender code" in the Barthian theory as outlined in S/Z and "Textual Analyses of Poe's 'Valdemar' " in order to examine the plural discourses at play at the site of the narrating "I" in Daniel Defoe's Roxana. Present scholarship on Daniel Defoe's use of the fIrst person female point of view has predominantly concentrated on Moll Flanders, subordinating the importance of Roxana, Defoe's last novel and second attempt with a female narrator in his novels. Like Moll, Roxana self-consciously tells her own story, but the absence of a reason for narration in Roxana makes Roxana a far more complex novel. Using Barthes's hermeneutic code and his theory of antithesis I have attempted to explain why Roxana tells her story. Furthermore, Defoe's paradoxical views on women are more problematic in Roxana. In Chapter One I have discussed the useful aspects of Barthes's structuralist and poststructuralist theory as applied to a feminist theory on gender. Chapters Two and Three analyze lexia by lexia some gendered sections of Defoe's Roxana only to discover a shifting gendered identity at the site of "I" which is discussed in detail in Chapter Four. I conclude this paper with the observation that both the presentation of paradoxical attitudes towards women and Roxana's reasons for narration can be explained by the power struggles at the site of "I."

McMaster University Library

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